Chicory is a hardy perennial that has a variety of uses, the best known, is its association with coffee.
The root of the chicory plant is long and thick, like the tap-root of the dandelion.
When dried, roasted and ground, it makes an excellent substitute for coffee, and because there is no caffeine in chicory it produces a more roasted flavour than coffee beans.
Sow seed in trays of seed compost and germinate at 10°- 13°C (50°-55°F)
Alternatively sow directly into 12m (½") deep drills in the open.
Lift chicory roots from now until December ready for forcing at intervals in a warm, dark place from next month into spring.
If the weather has been mild in your area, you should leave the roots outside for a couple of weeks to ensure they receive the chilling necessary to encourage forced growth.
Lift chicory and select straight roots with a neck diameter of about 50mm (2”) for forcing.
Trim down foliage to about 50mm (2”) and leave exposed to cold if weather has been mild.
Don't use forked roots.
Once roots have been exposed to cold for about two or three weeks, they can either be stored in boxes of sand or covered with straw to prevent drying out prior to forcing.
Force roots in darkness and within a temperature range of 10-18C (50-65F).
Trim three or four roots down to fit in a 200-225mm (8”-9”) pot and pack with well-drained, moist soil or compost.
Blanched chicons will form in three weeks at around 18C (65F).
Plants left in the ground can be cut back to about 25mm (1”) and earthed up to give blanched heads in late winter and spring.